Smith, Sheppard, Marlar and Larson win PDC preliminaries at FALS

The Prairie Dirt Classic weekend kicked off on Friday night at the Fairbury American Legion Speedway with a four-pack of qualifying races that would set a portion of the starting lineup for Saturday’s 100-lap $50,000-to-win main event. The World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series-sanctioned crown jewel event is taking place on the quarter-mile track located in Fairbury, Illinois.

Each of Friday’s Prairie Dirt Showdown preliminary races paid $3,000-to-win.

At the end of Friday’s action, Garrett Smith, Brandon Sheppard , Mike Marlar, and Kyle Larson were the winners of the preliminary races. The top-4 from each feature would transfer to Saturday’s Prairie Dirt Classic with the top-2 going to a redraw that will set the first four rows on the starting grid.

A total of 81 cars were signed in for competition.

Qualifying Results:

Group A Results- 1. Ashton Winger(12.952), 2. McKay Wenger, 3. Garrett Smith, 4. Brandon Sheppard, 5. Tyler Bruening, 6. Gordy Gundaker, 7. Garrett Alberson, 8. Kyle Bronson, 9. Ryan Gustin, 10. Trevor Gundaker, 11. Jimmy Owens, 12. Kevin Weaver, 13. Chris Simpson, 14. Brent Larson, 15. Myles Moos, 16. Ryan Unzicker, 17. Max Blair, 18. Scott Schmitt, 19. Logan Martin, 20. Justin Duty

Group B Results- 1. Dennis Erb Jr.(13.397), 2. Kyle Larson, 3. Mike Marlar, 4. Josh Rice, 5. Tanner English, 6. Tyler erb, 7. Steven Roberts, 8. Chase Junghans, 9. Shane Clanton, 10. Johnny Scott, 11. Mike Provenzano, 12. Boom Briggs, 13. Ricky Thornton Jr., 14. Mason Zeigler, 15. Cade Dillard, 16. Kye Blight, 17. Doug Drown, 18. Brent McKinnon, 19. Chris Ferguson, 20. Mike Spatola

Garrett Smith won the first FALS feature

Preliminary Race #1

Race Re-cap: Ashton Winger took the lead at the start of the 25-lap feature with Garrett Smith, Tyler Bruening, Garrett Alberson and Jimmy Owens trailing. Ryan Gustin burst into the top-4 soon after the start as Alberson began to fade back into the pack.

Winger found himself in traffic early on but his high line helped to pick his way through. Just behind, Bruening began to challenge Smith for the runner-up position. A lap 14 caution for debris erased Winger’s advantage.

Bruening passed Smith for second on the lap 14 restart while Gustin was shuffled back into the pack. A lap 15 crash involving Logan Martin, Kyle Strickler and Frank Heckenast Jr. brought out a red flag as those cars had to be untangled.

Alberson regained a transfer spot on the lap 15 restart with Owens and Chris Simpson breathing down his neck. As the laps clicked off, the top-4 of Winger, Bruening, Smith and Alberson ran in tight formation.

As the finish drew near, Bruening made an attempt to take the lead on the backstretch as the field raced toward the white flag. Contact between Bruening and Winger opened the door for Smith to charge into the lead. Those who had been trailing earlier pounced sending the ailing car of Winger back into the pack.

Garrett Smith got the win in his first ever appearance at Fairbury.

Race Finish: 1. Garrett Smith, 2. Garrett Alberson, 3. Tyler Bruening, 4. Jimmy Owens … 5. Max Blair, 6. Chris Simpson, 7. Ashton Winger, 8. Ryan Gustin, 9. Stormy Scott, 10. Derek Chandler, 11. Adam Tischauser, 12. Matt Lux, 13. Bradley Jameson, 14. Tom Thoennes, 15. Chris Nash, 16. Logan Martin, 17. Kyle Strickler, 18. Frank Heckenast Jr., 19. Myles Moos, 20. Bill Weistart, 21. Paul Parker

Brandon Sheppard won the second FALS feature

Preliminary Race #2

Race Re-cap: At the start of the 25-lap feature McKay Wenger took the lead over Brandon Sheppard, Gordy Gundaker, Kyle Bronson and Kevin Weaver. Bronson moved up on lap 4 when he passed Gundaker for third which left Gundaker to battle with brother Trevor Gundaker for the final transfer spot.

Sheppard moved up to stalk Wenger for the race lead on lap 6. On lap 8, the No. 1 made a bid for the lead which eventually paid off on lap 9. Further back, Bronson and Gordy Gundaker battled for third until Bronson broke away from that fight to challenge Wenger for second behind Sheppard.

Bronson got around Wenger for second while a three-way fight for positions 3-5 raged between Gordy Gundaker, Wenger and Jason Feger with Feger surging into third.

Trevor Gundaker crashed on lap 24 to bring about a green/white/checkered restart. On the green/white/checkered restart, Sheppard controlled the pace while Feger, Bronson and Gordy Gundaker claimed the transfer spots.

Race Finish: 1. Brandon Sheppard, 2. Jason Feger, 3. Kyle Bronson, 4. Gordy Gundaker … 5. McKay Wenger, 6. Kyle Hammer, 7. Ryan Unzicker, 8. Nick Hoffman, 9. Brent Larson, 10. Bob Gardner, 11. Scott Schmitt, 12. Alex Ferree, 13. Justin Duty, 14. Kevin Weaver, 15. Titus Sneed, 16. Brian Rickman, 17. Cody Bauer, 18. Jason Suhre, 19. Trevor Gundaker, 20. Greg Wagner

Mike Marlar was the victor in the third feature

Preliminary Race #3

Race Re-cap: When the 25-lap event got underway Mike Marlar took the early lead ahead of Dennis Erb Jr., Tanner English, Steven Roberts and Shane Clanton. Clanton took fourth from Roberts on lap 3 then a lap 5 yellow flag for Roberts slowing on the track slowed the action.

On the lap 5 restart, English moved to second while Cade Dillard swept his way into fourth. A caution for Jay Sparks slowed the pace briefly on lap 9.

English closed in and began challenging Marlar for the top spot on lap 11 then took the lead on lap 13. Meanwhile, Dillard and Erb were going at it for third with Erb grabbing that position on lap 17. But Dillard would regain that position two laps later just before he crashed to bring out a caution.

English, Marlar, Erb and Thornton held the transfer positions on the lap 19 restart.

Marlar took the high side took the lead on lap 21. English came back to make a bid for the win but Marlar held on the take the win.

Race Finish: 1. Mike Marlar, 2. Tanner English, 3. Ricky Thornton Jr., 4. Dennis Erb Jr. … 5. Shane Clanton, 6. Chris Ferguson, 7. Tommy Sheppard Jr., 8. Jonathan Davenport, 9. Steven Roberts, 10. Daryn Klein, 11. Josh Richards, 12. Thomas Hunziker, 13. Glen Thompson, 14. Bill Hough, 15. Cade Dillard, 16. Doug Drown, 17. Jay Sparks, 18. Nick Allen, 19. Mike Provenzano, 20. Josh Putnam

Kyle Larson took the fourth and final Friday feature

Preliminary Race #4

Race Re-cap: Kyle Larson fired off as the early leader at the drop of the green flag with Josh Rice, Tyler Erb, Chase Junghans and Johnny Scott trailing. Larson took to the high line with Rice challenging on the bottom until a yellow flag came out on lap 3 for debris.

Scott came up to fourth on the restart while Erb jumped into a battle with rice for second as Larson continued to lead. But again, a caution would come out when Mike Spatola slowed on lap 5.

Erb and Scott both passed Rice for second and third on the restart.

Chase Junghans took the final transfer spot from Scott on lap 9 with Larson continuing to lead Erb and Rice. However, a hard charging Bobby Pierce came from 19th to fourth on lap 14. Meanwhile, Larson had built a lead of more than one second despite being engaged with slower traffic.

Despite a tangle with a slower car, Larson pulled away for the win ahead of a furious fight for the remaining transfer positions.

Race Finish: 1. Kyle Larson, 2. Tyler Erb, 3. Josh Rice, 4. Bobby Pierce … 5. Chase Junghans, 6. Johnny Scott, 7. Brian Shirley, 8. Mason Zeigler, 9. Boom Briggs, 10. Jeff Larson, 11. Mike Spatola, 12. Joseph Joiner, 13. Shannon Babb, 14. Kye Blight, 15. Dale Markham, 16. Mike Mantaragas, 17. Todd Bennett, 18. Brake Troutman, 19. Brent McKinnon, 20. Jake Miller

Please consider also reading: Kyle Larson set to defend biggest Dirt Late Model victory


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